NFL Network's Rapoport: Don't Know If Bell Is Going To Get More On The Open Market Than What Steelers Offered

The NFL free agency market is tricky and Bell may never get the money he wants

The Fan Morning Show
July 17, 2018 - 11:20 am
Le'Veon Bell

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- The expected happened yesterday. The Steelers and running back Le'Veon Bell could not come to terms on a long-term agreement to keep him in Pittsburgh beyond next season. 

So, now what? Will it be a repeat of last season where Bell doesn't show up until right before the first regular season game?

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport joined The Fan Morning Show on Tuesday and said that it is impossible to know how much Bell will actually command on the open market once he presumably hits free agency after next season.

"I know that Bell believes he's worth certainly more than $15 [million> per year which is what I believe he wanted," saod Rapoport. "He probably thinks by next year he'll be worth more than $16 [million> per year. Is that what the market will bear? Free agency has a funny way of bringing players down to reality or the opposite. I didn't think (49ers running back) Jerick McKinnon was going to be worth $7 million a year, that's what someone paid him therefore that's what he's worth. Same thing with (Chiefs WR) Sammie Watkins, $16 million was a ton, it's what somebody paid him so therefore that's what he's worth. I don't know if a running back in his prime, on the open market, is going to make more than what the Steelers offered [Monday>." 

Rapoport is among the many that believe that this year's contract dispute with Bell will be the exact same as last year's when he held out until the regular season.

"That's probably the best guess right now," said Rapoport. "I know that some people have talked about him maybe skipping the season. If he's willing to give up $8 million then I guess theoretically that's a possibility but I mean let's be real, that's not realistic right?"

"To me the real question is, does he actually show up earlier to make sure that he goes out and kills it and then is in the best position to destroy the running back martket as a free agent," said Rapoport. "That's my question, 'does he actually show up earlier?'" 

As far as another team out there paying him what he wants, somewhere around $17 or $18 million a year...

"I have a hard time imagining that," said Rapoport. "Could it be similar to the $14 million a year the Steelers offered him? Probably. I'm sure it will be more guaranteed money. I think that's the problem. The Steelers just have never paid the guaranteed money over the first several years of a deal that a lot of teams have. They pay differently. They give much higher yearly salaries, they give huge signing bonuses, they structure their contracts differently. It seems to me that it's the contract structure that Le'Veon Bell had the most problems with. Even if he doesn't get a higher yearly average in free agency, he'll certainly get more guaranteed money and maybe that's something that will make him happier." 

You can listen to the entire interview with NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport on The Fan Morning Show below. 



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